Wisconsin Public Record Laws


Wis. Stat. §§19.31 –19.39

Exemptions to Disclosure

Record does not mean:

  • Drafts, notes, preliminary computations and like materials prepared for the originator’s personal use or prepared by the originator in the name of a person for whom the originator is working; materials which are purely the personal property of the custodian and have no relation to his or her office; materials to which access is limited by copyright, patent or bequest; and published materials in the possession of an authority other than a public library which are available for sale, or which are available for inspection at a public library.

Access Rights

  • Any person
  • During office hours
  • Fee may not exceed actual and direct costs of reproducing records
  • Fee waiver allowed
  • If request is oral, denial may be oral


  • Do not have to state the nature of your request
  • Must reasonably describe the requested record
  • Request cannot be refused because the person making the request refuses to be identified.

Destruction of Public Records

  • §19.21(5)(a)-(e) requires a minimum retention record of 7 years; destruction cannot violate retention schedule
  • No authority may destroy any record at any time after the receipt of a request for inspection or copying of the record under sub. (1) until after the request is granted or until at least 60 days after the date that the request is denied or, if the requester is a committed or incarcerated person, until at least 90 days after the date that the request is denied. Wis. Stat. § 19.35
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